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Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1352; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051352

Identifying Farm Pond Habitat Suitability for the Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus): A Conservation-Perspective Approach

1
Department of Soil and Water Conservation, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung City 402, Taiwan
2
Department of Horticulture, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung City 402, Taiwan
3
International Master Program of Agriculture, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung City 402, Taiwan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 February 2018 / Revised: 18 April 2018 / Accepted: 25 April 2018 / Published: 26 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife)
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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to establish a habitat-suitability assessment model for Gallinula chloropus, or the Common Moorhen, to be applied to the selection of the most suitable farm pond for habitat conservation in Chiayi County, Taiwan. First, the fuzzy Delphi method was employed to evaluate habitat selection factors and calculate the weights of these factors. The results showed that the eight crucial factors, by importance, in descending order, were (1) area ratio of farmlands within 200 m of the farm pond; (2) pond area; (3) pond perimeter; (4) aquatic plant coverage of the pond surface; (5) drought period; (6) coverage of high and low shrubs around the pond bank; (7) bank type; and (8) water-surface-to-bank distance. Subsequently, field evaluations of 75 farm ponds in Chiayi County were performed. The results indicated that 15 farm ponds had highly-suitable habitats and were inhabited by unusually high numbers of Common Moorhens; these habitats were most in need of conservation. A total of two farm ponds were found to require habitat-environment improvements, and Common Moorhens with typical reproductive capacity could be appropriately introduced into 22 farm ponds to restore the ecosystem of the species. Additionally, the habitat suitability and number of Common Moorhens in 36 farm ponds were lower than average; these ponds could be used for agricultural irrigation, detention basins, or for recreational use by community residents. Finally, the total habitat suitability scores and occurrence of Common Moorhens in each farm pond were used to verify the accuracy of the habitat-suitability assessment model for the Common Moorhen. The overall accuracy was 0.8, and the Kappa value was 0.60, which indicates that the model established in this study exhibited high credibility. To sum up, this is an applicable framework not only to assess the habitat suitability of farm ponds for Common Moorhens, but also to determine whether a particular location may require the implementation of conservation practices. Furthermore, the findings in this research can provide useful information to all relevant stakeholders involved in the implementation of wildlife-habitat conservation and restoration at farm ponds. View Full-Text
Keywords: fuzzy Delphi method; Kappa; matrix analysis; Taiwan; conservation practice fuzzy Delphi method; Kappa; matrix analysis; Taiwan; conservation practice
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Lai, C.-H.; Lin, S.-H.; Tsai, C.-Y.; Chen, S.-H. Identifying Farm Pond Habitat Suitability for the Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus): A Conservation-Perspective Approach. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1352.

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